Demystifying Instructional Design

S3E1: Janet Lee and Darlesa Cahoon are analyzing instructional design

October 30, 2022 Rebecca J. Hogue Season 3 Episode 1
Demystifying Instructional Design
S3E1: Janet Lee and Darlesa Cahoon are analyzing instructional design
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I interview Janet Lee who works in higher education and Darlesa Cahoon who works in the corporate sector. We explore how instructional design is the same and how it is different across the different contexts. Sometimes we think it will be completely different only to discover that it is actually quite alike. 
This is the first part of a series. 

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Rebecca Hogue:

Welcome to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview various instructional designers to figure out what instructional designers do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, your podcast host. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider subscribing or leaving a comment on the show notes blog post and consider helping to support the podcast with a donation to my Patreon account. Welcome Janet and Darlesa to Demystifying Instructional Design. This is fun because we're talking to instructional designers that are in very different contexts. And so in this case, I'll ask each of them to introduce themselves to get us started. Why don't you start us off, Janet?

Janet Lee:

Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for having me Rebecca. I am a learning architect and video producer, working freelance right now, but I have a lot of experience with K-12 and higher education instructional design, looking forward to talking about that.

Darlesa Cahoon:

Hi everybody. I'm Darlesa Cahoon and I work for the Port of Seattle at the SCA Airport in Seattle, Washington, or near Seattle, Washington. And so I'm in corporate training and my focus is actually now, which is a little different than when I talked to you before Rebecca, it's very focused on customer service, learning and performance. And so I do a variety of things around that, including a lot of employee engagement and things, but I have always worked in the corporate learning space.

Rebecca Hogue:

Thank you both. The first question I wanted to ask each of you to just get this conversation started, I figured we would talk a little bit about the different phases of the ADDIE model, for lack of a better choice. And so, analysis in your context, what does analysis look like?

Janet Lee:

Well, I guess I can go first. For me, I really have to start with analyzing where faculty are when I start working with them. My job was always to get a relationship going the minute I met somebody and basically analyze where they are and what their comfort level is with designing and whether they've ever worked to bring their content online and also analyze what sort of feedback we received about this course based on students' perspective. And putting those students at the forefront is something that we're always trying to do when we analyze the situation before going in.

Darlesa Cahoon:

In my environments, I guess it does It really does depend on what you're being asked to do, because certainly there are times when I'm helping others to design some sort of learning experience similar to what you're talking about Janet. So that would probably be kind of similar to what you're talking about. But generally I am building, designing a training program or experience myself for another department. So we certainly focus, as you said too, just focus on the learner and what is the learners comfortableness with technology? How much time do they have? Obviously, the questions go on and on, but I think the most basic thing that I always like to ask people when they say they need a training class, what is it that you really want your employees to know or do differently than they do today? And everything grows out of that.

Rebecca Hogue:

What kinds of things are you looking at when you're doing the analysis?

Darlesa Cahoon:

In our environment, I work with such a variety of people because I work potentially with every airport employee. So that could be anybody from an executive at an airline to a baggage handler to a person working at the Starbucks in the airport. I always start with what is the learner's environment? How are they going to be able to consume this experience that we're designing for them that we need to design? Do they have computers? Are they the kind of people that are sitting at computers? Do they have their own cell phone? And can we use that? Sometimes that's not even possible. If we want to do something that's virtual or self-paced online or if not, how much of their time can we get? And that is always a big challenge for us, is trying to figure out if people are working front lines doing something.

Speaker 1:

They're the hardest ones to pull away, but they're the

Darlesa Cahoon:

ones that need to just come away from their work in order to get together and try to learn something new.

Rebecca Hogue:

I think that's really interesting, and I'm looking forward to hearing Janet's context too, because I think this is where something is very different.

Janet Lee:

Absolutely. And when you talk about the learner, I really love that the time factor is huge. And in my context, I'm working with subject matter experts and so I have to try and get them on board with me and actually train them so that we're both having a combined vision for what could happen in the course.

Speaker 1:

And when we talk about a learner, we're talking about

Janet Lee:

who's going to be taking the course that we are creating together. When we think about the learner, it's the students and what is it that they need? They usually need just in time learning. They need to access the content on their mobile phones. We need to think about what sort of video content would help them feel connected to the class, but also bring in the people who don't have a lot of time to take the courses, who maybe have two and three jobs on the side and they're just trying to level up. So one of my main jobs is always to get the subject matter expert on side with me. And many times they are there against their will and they don't want to be there doing this. They don't believe in online learning. They don't think it can be as engaging. And so it's always every now and then convincing the SME that this can be a great thing and can translate their passion for the content in a way that is effective.

Darlesa Cahoon:

I love that. I mean, that's so interesting to me because I think it's funny and frustrating and all of the above. But I always more and more as time goes on, I get more of a kick out of it, but it cracks me up how people just have so many prejudices against virtual or online learning. Oh, even after we've lived through what we've lived through. Yeah, it's funny. I was working with, it was probably at the beginning of the pandemic, I was working with a group of HR people that wanted to move their leadership training, their precious leadership training, to an online, or they were being forced to do it now that they didn't want to do it and they were saying, This can't be done, this can't be done. And I said, Yeah, maybe it can't, but let's talk through it. And so they would come up with, We do this activity... that can't be virtual. And then I'm like, actually, you could do it like this. What about this and this? And we just addressed all their different activities and found out, yeah, you could do that. It's really, you know, it's not the same, but we can get at the same eventual learning objective and hopefully get the same thing out of it in the end. So that was kind of interesting.

Janet Lee:

That whole, "it can't be done" is so interesting, and a lot of my workshops start with, "oh, we can't do this, this is impossible". And I say, I found myself saying this actually last week. I said, let's be, let's team up and be the keepers of positive language. And they all laughed, they were telling me that it was this incredible... it would be a nightmare to do this was the actual verbiage. And I said, so let's a let's never say that again. But it's funny, working with higher ed faculty. They are the experts in their content, but they're not the experts in maybe delivering it because I think many of us just assume that if you're a subject matter expert, you can teach it. But really that's not the case in many places.

Speaker 1:

So everybody comes in to their conversations with me, the

Janet Lee:

different levels. I've had people holding their phone up to their ear during a Zoom call. I just see this enormous ear in my video finder and I say, okay, just straighten your arm out. Sometimes that's where we start. And other times somebody has been designing their course forever. It's just need alignment. And that's the piece that's pretty invisible. I find many times in higher ed, I find alignment is a conversation that nobody really knows how to have.

Rebecca Hogue:

Can you clarify what you mean by alignment?

Janet Lee:

One thing leads to another and they're all connected. So, for instance, the program level objectives are there. Then you have your course level objectives, the module level objectives. Then we have the learning materials, learning activities and assessments and all of those things need to align or in some cases be exactly the same. You need to see the wording throughout, and nobody starts that way. In higher ed, we really just say, okay, what is it that I want to teach? I'm going to go in there and do it. And many times what we're talking about has nothing to do with the course objectives. It's just a funny story or it's something that everybody related to. But that connecting tissue is missing.

Darlesa Cahoon:

I think it's very interesting how we started this conversation, talking about how different our environments are, but certainly that whole aspect is very similar in a corporate environment where, you know, you need to be aligning your objectives to not only the department objectives and the division objectives and eventually the whole organization's objectives. So I can certainly see that kind of disconnect happening all the time too.

Janet Lee:

And the purpose for it,and everybody says, what? why does this matter? Because students need to actually understand why they're doing what they're doing and how that does relate to objectives in the course and the reason why they're taking it to begin with.

Darlesa Cahoon:

I always like to tell people I don't even know who coined the phrase, but I like to talk about the curse of knowledge. And that's what I tell my airfield people who've been working in airports for 30 years that sometimes I deal with and they do know everything there is to know about an airport, but they have that curse of knowledge. I say it is impossible for you to remember what it was like before you knew what you knew. And so let me be the beginner and help you. Figure out how to teach people who are new at this.

Janet Lee:

I love that. I love putting it like that. And how many assumptions people make. Like just I assume students will have the critical literacy skills to to read this content. I'm getting them. That assumption really is a roadblock for embedding the learning I think, especially at an airport. I have a relative who is a pilot and he just makes a lot of assumptions about what people know and don't know about an airport and how to get around. Do you find that when you're working with employees?

Darlesa Cahoon:

Yeah. One thing I think is interesting is, certainly I spend a lot of my time and this probably doesn't even come into play for you, and a lot of my time recently on marketing my training, trying to get people into my classes and I think probably motivation is a little bit different in a corporate setting where you're always trying to figure out how to motivate people to change their behavior.

Janet Lee:

That marketing piece is huge where I am too, because nobody wants to ask for help. And so my team at the college level, like we're here to help, but nobody wants to ask. So we have this idea. we were like, all right, maybe we can make some commercials. So that's what I did. I made these commercials, and the one we did was called Teacher Things, and we used that sitcom. it's not a sitcom It's like a, what would you call that? Anyway, series, The Stranger Things, as our theme. And basically it was like all these teachers saying, of course, I'm going to do a lecture for 55 minutes and why don't they care? And why are all these questions coming through? And in the end, we were all together going, these are the stranger things that happen in online learning, but we're here to help. And we sent it out as this little experiment just to be funny and silly. And we got more response from that than we ever did from any email blast or any sort of like sign or anything we've tried in the past. That commercial made us human to everybody and made them kind of giggle and they wanted to work with us. And marketing is especially -- it's important in our work because teachers, as I said, faculty really they don't want to ask for help because they're supposed to know everything.

Darlesa Cahoon:

I love that!

Rebecca Hogue:

This is interesting because I see it as Darlesa marketing content and Janet marketing people, like marketing the instructional designers themselves. Does that sort of align?

Janet Lee:

Yeah.

Darlesa Cahoon:

Sure. Sometimes I am in that similar sort of situation, like with the leadership training that I was talking about, that was probably more like what you do, Janet, that there are times when I do that, but we have such a small team. I love to help people, but I usually, I guess I've kind of gotten over the years a little bit jaded by trying to help people that don't want help. I'm sure you've been in that situation. It's very frustrating and you kind of...I feel like now we have a small team. We can't get to everybody. So I try to just... I'm not going to try to convince anyone. And it's funny, you know I had a couple, I have a couple of friends, at least, well more than a couple that are teachers that were K through 12 and also college professors that I reached out to when COVID hit and said, I do a lot of this online learning, online experiences of all kinds for a living.

Speaker 1:

And if you ever have any questions, if you are struggling, feel free to call me and ask for help.

Darlesa Cahoon:

And I'm more than happy to just walk through something with you and help you envision how that could be done virtually. And nope, I did not get any calls.

Janet Lee:

Really? Aw, I would have called you

Darlesa Cahoon:

and I would have called you.

Janet Lee:

I find, like in my role, I've had to work. You have to work with these people who don't want to do it. And I had somebody just flat out tell me, I'm not. He said, I can't even say what he said. It was horrible what he said about students.

Speaker 1:

I can't say it.

Janet Lee:

It'll hurt my heart. I looked at him and I was like, All right, fine. He wanted to do quizzes. That's what he wanted andI had to try and explain to him that quizzes are not always going to get at the learning, like you can... it's so easy to jeopardize your data. It's so easy to do that. And so I gave him, I said, okay, I'm going to show you a picture. So I showed him this picture of a girl who was like lying on her side. She had bright blue hair, she had sunglasses on. I said, I'm going to show you this. There's a quiz when I'm done. Ready? So I show him this picture. And I took it away and I said, okay, are you ready for the quiz? He said, yeah. I go... What is the weather in that picture? And he goes, well, sunny. I said okay. Why do you say that? Well, she's wearing sunglasses, so actually it's cloudy. And so I show him the picture again. And you can see a reflection in her sunglasses of clouds. And I said, you failed the quiz. He said that's not fair. I said, exactly. You didn't fail the quiz. I failed it because I didn't tell you what to look for. I didn't frame the quiz. So when you put a quiz out there, it's so easy for students to fail. But sometimes it's our fault. Putting somebody in a position is what I have to do. A lot of the times I have to almost put somebody in an experience that is, it can shift their mindset. And that's the thing I do really well. There are things in life I don't do very well, but that is one thing, like coming up with those creative ideas for how to get people to see my point without telling them what my point is.

Darlesa Cahoon:

I love that. That's so clever.

Janet Lee:

Thank you. That's what I like to do. But it doesn't work all the time. I'll tell you.

Rebecca Hogue:

There's more to come. Stay tuned for part two of my interview with Lisa and Janet. You've been listening to Demystifying Instructional Design, a podcast where I interview instructional designers about what they do. I'm Rebecca Hogue, your podcast host. Show notes are posted as a blog post on Demystifying Instructional Design.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe or leave a comment in the show Notes blog post.